Meet our CEO- Rachel Enright!

Friday June 28, 2024 at 9:39 AM


Rachel Enright, BCBA

Can you share a bit about your background and journey to becoming CEO of Gateway?

Around nine years ago, I moved to Michigan with a clear goal: to continue my career in ABA therapy. I began researching various companies in the area, seeking one whose values aligned with my own. During this search, I came across a glowing review from a parent praising Gateway Pediatric Therapy for its exceptional impact on their child and the quality care provided by its employees. This testimonial piqued my interest, and prompted me to call the office number. A man answered the phone, informed me that they were hiring, and asked how I heard about Gateway. He also invited me for a tour to learn more about the company. It was only later that I discovered I had been speaking with the then-CEO, Michael Kouracos, who had cleverly tested my attention to detail by asking how I found the company and job posting, which at the time included an explicit message to “not call.”

I joined Gateway as an RBT and became the fifth employee, working with the fifth client to receive services. During downtime while waiting for my client, I utilized my previous ABA therapy experience to create supplies, program checklists, employee audit sheets, and other supportive materials. This initiative was my way of showing appreciation for the opportunity and assisting the busy founders.

As time passed, I identified areas that seemed to be an especially heavy lift, such as scheduling, and offered to assist or suggest more efficient systems and processes. These small contributions grew in volume and time alongside our increasing client and employee numbers. Over the years, Gateway along the way faced growing pains. Whenever these challenges arose, I would step in, learn on the go, and deliver my best work.

Eventually in 2017, I started graduate school, pursuing a Master’s in Psychology at Western Michigan University through a hybrid on-campus and online program. Later, I earned my MBA from the University of North Carolina. My experiences at Gateway, coupled with my educational background, prepared me for continued professional growth, ultimately leading to my current role as CEO.

What brought you to the field of ABA?

Similar to many stories you hear about people entering the field, my journey began after hearing a friend speak positively about her work experiences in ABA therapy. At that time, I was seriously considering becoming an Occupational Therapist and needed to complete shadowing hours with an OT to apply to graduate school. I observed an OT who ran an incredibly smooth and engaging session with her client. Impressed, I asked her how she structured her day so effectively. She credited her experience as an ABA Therapist/Behavior Technician. Realizing that experience in ABA would make me a more effective therapist and practitioner, whether I pursued OT or not, I decided to explore the ABA therapy field further. That decision was made in 2013, and I remain deeply appreciative of my experiences working with the clients, my colleagues, and within the field every day.

What are some of the core values that drive you as a leader?

As a CEO, it is important to me to lead an ABA therapy company that not only provides high-quality therapeutic services, but also fosters an environment built on core values such as honesty and transparency, empathy, and integrity. These values drive every decision and action I take as a leader to ensure that we continue to do right by the clients, their families, and our employees.

How do you envision the future of Gateway under your leadership?

Gateway is a leader in the ABA therapy field, known for our innovative and high-quality services. My vision for the future of the company includes a steadfast commitment to our clients and employees, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of ABA therapy while making a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve. We will achieve this by focusing on client-centered care, providing individualized services that address the unique needs and goals of each person and their family. Additionally, we will foster a culture of continuous learning and professional growth for our staff, offering ongoing training, support, and opportunities for advancement.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs or future leaders?

A few pieces of advice that I would give to aspiring entrepreneurs or future leaders are:

Embrace Every Encounter as a Learning Opportunity: Treat every situation as a chance to learn and grow. By seeking lessons and takeaways in each experience, you position yourself to navigate similar situations more effectively in the future.

Stay Grounded and Hands-On: Remember, no task is beneath you. Whether it’s picking up a piece of trash on the floor, handling a high-needs client situation, or taking an early or late phone call, embracing every responsibility builds credibility and shows your commitment.

Surround Yourself with Excellence: Surround yourself with people who challenge and inspire you to be better. I’m grateful every day for the dedicated individuals I work with who push me to innovate and improve through constructive debate and collaboration.

What role models inspire you?

Professionally, I find inspiration and guidance from Brené Brown and Dr. Tyra Sellers. In my opinion, Brené embodies vulnerability and empathy in the workplace, demonstrating that softness is a strength. She uses authenticity as her super power to promote and develop effective organizations and workplace culture. Dr. Sellers has been instrumental in promoting inclusive practices within the ABA therapy field, emphasizing the importance of understanding and respecting cultural differences when designing interventions for autistic individuals.

Personally, my dad is a significant source of inspiration for me. He transitioned from a challenging hands-on job to become a rancher in his “retirement.” Even at 81 years old, rain or shine, he wakes up at 5am every morning to ensure his animals are well cared for and the farm operates smoothly.

Do you have a hobby outside of work that helps you be a better leader?

Embarrassingly, I wish I had more hobbies! When I have free time away from the office, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two daughters, and being outdoors. I’m also currently using Duolingo to re-learn French and make an effort to listen to/read books whenever I can.

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